Traditional telephone connections over land lines have unlocked many opportunities for day-to-day communication but have always been poorly suited to emergency communications.

A single phone call over a copper leased line has over 40 steps to connect to the receiver before a user can communicate with the person on the other end of the call, a process that can easily double if the user is making a call from one commutations provider’s network to another.

Any failure or error at any stage of the process can render an emergency phone useless at the time of need. For instance, if a passenger is trapped in a lift, then relying on a landline connection could leave them unable to communicate.

With the digital switchover fast approaching and Openreach cutting off analogue land lines in 2025 in favour of fibre, VoIP connections, the situation is going to become more complex as providers add additional points of failure into the call chain as the connection moves from device to router, router to optical network terminal, etc.

In this article, we’re going to look at the problem of relying on digital line connections for emergency calls and how a switch to a GSM can mitigate the problem.

The Problem with Relying on Digital Phone Lines

Digital phone lines have a number of innate weaknesses and points of failure that make them ill-suited to emergency communications. By 2025, fibre networks and digital phone lines will be the standard in the UK. This means facility managers will need to be aware of a number of limitations, including:

Out of all these concerns, one of the most significant is the fact that a power failure can put a VoIP connection completely out of action, so that lift passengers won’t be able to communicate with operators.

At the same time, as the installation of digital phone lines withdraws support for analogue services, auto diallers that rely on landline connections may fail to dial out if someone places an alarm call.

The Answer: GSM-based Communications

When it comes to emergency communications, the more complex the communication setup is, there is increased exposure for any steps of the process to break down. As a result, it is essential to rely on robust communication solutions that offer reliable service in times of emergency.

By working with a provider like AVIRE, you can source a cellular device to use in your lift and route the calls over a GSM mobile network that is more resistant to failure than a fibre connection.

This provides a foundation you can combine with a Digital Communication Platform (DCP) that provides a monitored backup that can translate analogue signals into digital.

It also ensures you keep all your emergency lift communication devices inside the lift and within your control.

Why GSM?

According to the Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA), there are some key advantages offered by GSM mobile networks for emergency communications. These include:

  • Lifts not requiring PSTN lines
  • GSM equipment offers battery-backups to operate during power failure
  • Roaming SIMs increase signal strength and locating the strongest networks
  • Data transmissions supported via a mobile network

In addition to these advantages, using a GSM solution allows you to migrate existing analogue autodiallers easily to a new system that supports analogue signalling, so you can ensure they continue to function. Analogue signalling can still be compromised during the transmission process, so it’s recommended that you select a GSM which can accept analogue signals from the autodialler and the convert this to a digital signal for transmission over the network.

Fully digital solutions that include a GSM are ideal because they provide you with a pre-set digital solution that eliminates risk and ensures you know how the whole process is going to work.

Transitioning to GSM: Things to Consider

If you’re concerned about what impact the digital switch will have on your emergency lift phones, it’s important to contact your lift maintenance provider to check if your current devices will be compatible and whether they need to be updated.

When considering GSM technology, it is a good idea to reach out to an experienced GSM provider to gather information on the process for connecting analogue solutions to a GSM so you can make sure that your service continues to be available to everyone who needs it.

Throughout any migration process, the most important concern is to make sure that any new systems you install are safe and available for passengers. Any downtime, performance issues, and instability can put passengers at risk of harm and open you up to potential legal liabilities, so preparation is key.

For example, if you’re looking to implement new solutions that are battery-powered, it’s important to make sure that you develop a process in advance to monitor, maintain and replace batteries periodically.

Mitigating Risk

Facility managers have a critical role to play in ensuring that buildings and emergency communications are always safe and available to visitors as well as mitigating any risks that could put them and your organisation at risk.

Deploying a GSM solution (such as the DCP) can help ensure that emergency services remain available to passengers at all times so that they can request immediate support if they experience any trouble.

For more information on the available solutions that will ensure your lifts remain reliable and operational after the digital switch,  contact the AVIRE team today.


Author: Milagros Gamero, EU Marketing Communications Manager at AVIRE

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